RaboDirect Pro12 preview: Ulster set for tough Dragons clash
RaboDirect Pro12 preview: Gareth Llewellyn-Stevens previews the action as Ulster take on the Dragons
Round 16 of the RaboDirect PRO12 is the last of a run of four straight rounds that could help define a team’s season before international rugby once more takes centre stage.
The focus will now be on achieving a top four placing, thereby qualifying for the end of season play-offs and the chance to be crowned champions.
At present six teams appear to be contesting the play-off places and two of those are in action against each other in the last game of the round on Saturday night, when Glasgow Warriors travel to Dublin to face Leinster.
The Warriors have already beaten their hosts once this season, and a victory here could start them off on another sequence of away wins after the Dragons ended their record run last time out.
Also on Saturday evening table-topping Munster travel to sixth-placed Scarlets, and the hosts must claim the points if they are to have any chance of making a successful late bid for the play-offs.
Pat Lam’s Connacht side are back on home soil as they entertain Benetton Treviso, whom they climbed above in the standings last weekend. Connacht are chasing their third league victory on the trot.
The third and fourth-placed teams are both in action on Friday night, Ulster welcoming the Newport Gwent Dragons to Ravenhill while the Ospreys travel to Edinburgh to play at Boroughmuir’s Meggetland ground.
The Dragons may have defeated Ulster in Wales, but will find it a much tougher prospect in Belfast as Mark Anscombe’s charges have lost there just once in 12 months.
The Ospreys are another team not afraid to travel and will hope their ratio of more wins on the road than at home will continue for this trip.
RaboDirect Pro12 fixtures
Friday, February 28:
Ulster (3rd) v Newport Gwent Dragons (7th), Ravenhill, 7.05pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland/RTÉ Two)
Edinburgh (8th) v Ospreys (4th), Meggetland, 7.35pm (live BBC ALBA/BBC 2 Wales)
Saturday, March 1:
Zebre (12th) v Cardiff Blues (9th), Stadio XXV Aprile, 4pm local time (live Sport Mediaset)
Connacht (10th) v Benetton Treviso (11th), the Sportsground, 5pm
Scarlets (6th) v MUNSTER (1st), Parc y Scarlets, 6.30pm (live RTÉ Two/S4C)
Leinster (2nd) v Glasgow Warriors (5th), the RDS, 8.30pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)